Winter Wonderland

Park City, Utah is a winter wonderland and when I am there, I hope for snow, snow and more snow. It is a different mindset than being at home, thinking the snow will slow me down and cause traffic delays. Instead, as it snows in Utah I marvel at how beautiful it is, and want more and more so that I can ski and snow shoe in fresh powder. I embrace winter there, unlike at home. Park City is charming, with wonderful stores, restaurants and art galleries. It has three ski resorts in town, and there are four others in Cottonwood Canyon about 30 minutes away. It also has multiple trails for snow shoeing. What more could you ask. Being outdoors in such a setting makes you appreciate the season. Most people visit for the snow and snow sports, and enjoy the outdoors. We do the same and I also dress the part – dressing much more warmly than at home, and always wearing long underwear and warm ski socks. Despite that, after a day spent outside, I do get chilled at night. The nights are very cold there – when the sun goes down because of the lack of atmosphere in the mountains, the atmosphere does not hold any lingering warmth. Instead 30 degree days become 0 degree or less nights.

This Christmas we spent in Utah at the house with our friends the Gregorys. We have spent the last five Christmases at the house and a number of Christmases before then doing an annual ski trip with our kids. The week from Christmas to New Year is a good time for us to get away, and for our kids, when they were in school it was a week off, but now that they are working, it is still a quiet week. Before going, I was a bit worried about skiing, My neuropathy has spread not just in the toes of each foot but the bottoms of my feet as well, making it very difficult to balance. I also have neuropathy in my hands in the first digits of each finger, and in my tongue (who would have thought) in the first 1/3. The tongue affects my taste and feels like I burned it. Despite this, I looked forward to the trip and the relaxation it would bring to be at the house, looking at the Jordanelle reservoir (looks like a lake) and Deer Valley mountain ski runs. However, I was on a four week vacation from chemo and expected to otherwise be strong. I was strong.

When we arrived, there was little snow and very few ski runs open. Luckily, while we were there we had a few good storms and fresh snow. I was relaxed fully for the first time in weeks, and it did not seem real, while I was there, that my mother had just died and been buried the week before we left. I had decided I would ski mellow runs, would nurture myself, would do yoga often and even had a spa appointment courtesy of my friend Diane, who booked us for facials and massages. I skied three days. I snow shoed one day with Julia of Park City Yoga Adventures and Sluff, her adorable Tibetan terrier (cutest dog ever). I did yoga five days, including a couple of practices at home and practices at Park City Yoga and The Shop, both serious yoga studios. For yoga at the house, I face the mountains and the Jordanelle while practicing. There is not a better view.

The spa day was a day of total relaxation, except I forgot that my skin is more sensitive because of chemo and the facial treatment with glycolic acid was a mistake. I ended up with a rash on part of my face. This has never happened before, and I made a note to make sure that if I do any facials again, I should tell them to skip that step. After three hours at the spa, I was totally mellow. My skiing was more mellow than usual The first day, it was hard to judge my balance because I could not feel most of my feet. Sometimes, my skis went out from under me. I compensated the next day by focusing on shifting my weight rather than the feel of my feet in the skis, and I had to look to make sure my ski boots were centered in the bindings because feel did not work. Snow shoeing presented less of an issue although the neuropathy definitely gets worse with the cold. I was not as confident in my skiing, but I enjoyed it. I did not ski as many days as I would have in the past, including skipping the day the group went to Alta because it was so cold I did not think I should be out there. I took to heart that I should be careful and should nurture myself.

I also read a couple of books and made a trip to the independent bookstore in town. One thing I love about Park City is that on Main Street there are no chains, except a couple of clothes stores like Roots and Lululemon. It is one of the few places where you can find an independent bookstore and the people working there are readers and have suggestions. I love that, and always visit it when we are there even though I also read a lot of books on my iPad.

We made dinner a few nights, went out other nights and generally were very relaxed, The trip was just what I needed after the stress of arbitration and my mothers death the two weeks before we left. Utah truly is a winter wonderland. It was funny to return home where there is no snow, yet, and it is green. While it is cold, our last few days in Utah were much colder. When it snows here, I will try to embrace it as I do in Utah, will take my dogs for walks, and will enjoy the snow. In one month, though, I am looking forward to my annual trip to South Beach when Alan skis with his college friends in Utah. I always go with my friend Jackie, but this year my daughter, Sara, and my cousin, Mary, are joining us. I will be ready for sun and sand by then.

My vacation from chemo will end soon – starting Monday when I begin maintenance chemo by taking six chemo pills a day, three in the morning and three at night. I already dread that, even though I expect the side effects to be much better. It was so wonderful to get a break from chemo and from feeling sick. It was so wonderful to get stronger and stronger over these last four weeks. It was so wonderful not to even have to think about chemo and what it may bring. I plan on staying strong, and plan on having far less side effects. I also plan on acupuncture to deal with the neuropathy. If that is the price for beating this cancer, so be it. In the meantime, I plan on taking a long weekend, somewhere warm, every month this winter. Life is uncertain, and I have learned not to put off until tomorrow what I can do today.

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2 thoughts on “Winter Wonderland

  1. Dianne says:

    Marilyn, you make me want to be in Park City! I love Sarah’s photo of the mountains. It sounds like a healing place, and I like the idea that you can carry it within you. I am so happy your time there was so inspiring. Love to all of you.

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